Go no deal or revoke Article 50 if you can’t agree a deal, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ugo Amez/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM

French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo by Ugo Amez/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM - Credit: ABACA/PA Images

The French president has once again suggested he would not back an extension to Article 50, adding pressure following talks between Boris Johnson and Irish premier Leo Varadkar.

Macron said the UK would be left with the choice of a no-deal Brexit or revoking Article 50 altogether if Johnson cannot make an acceptable compromise on the Withdrawal Agreement.

The comments follow a private meeting between the taoiseach and Johnson in the Wirral, which had sounded an altogether more optimistic note as the pair released a joint statement saying they had "agreed they could see a pathway to a possible deal".

But Macron's statement is a stern reminder that he is unlikely to agree to the extension of Article 50 if those talks fail.

He said: "If they want to make a move which is compatible with what could be accepted by the 27, it is fine.

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"If they don't want to make any move or make something which is not accepted, they will have to take the responsibility.

"At the very end, this is a British responsibility either to make a Brexit without agreement, or to withdraw Article 50 and stop the process."

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Boris Johnson is required by the Benn Act to request an extension if he has not hammered out a deal by October 19.

But French European affairs minister Amélie de Montchalin chimed with Macron by questioning the use of extending Article 50.

De Montchalin said in an interview with France Inter radio that even Britain's scheduled departure date of October 31 remains realistic since she does not see an obvious reason to grant a further extension to the UK.

"I have a fundamental question: why give more time? If it is time for the sake of time? It has taken one year, even three years, and we don't really get it," she said.

She added that a no-deal Brexit is still the most likely outcome.

No firm details have yet followed his meeting with the taoiseach, but speculation currently centres around the idea that Northern Ireland will leave the customs union along with the rest of the UK, but would be treated as if it hadn't.

Further concrete information is unlikely to emerge until after chief Brexit 'sherpa' Steven Barclay's meeting in Brussels with Michael Barnier.

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